Sometimes the redness of your eyes may surprise you. One minute you’re washing your hands, and the next minute you barely recognize your own face in the mirror. Other times, red eyes come with irritation. With all that itchiness and aggravation, you know that your eyes will be red before you see your reflection. If the redness persists for more than a day or your eyes feel painful, consult your optometrist. The causes of red eyes vary by case, and while it’s likely nothing to worry about, a professional can help you determine why your eyes are so red and irritated and how you can soothe them.
Causes of Red Eyes
When the trees start blooming, the pollen starts falling. If itchiness and a stuffy nose accompany your red eyes, there’s a good chance an allergy is to blame. Of course, pollen is often a culprit, but other items can cause eye allergies as well: pet dander, mold, dust mites, perfume, cigarette smoke, etc. Cosmetics, certain contact lenses, and eye drops can also trigger allergic reactions. Allergies are amongst the most common causes of red eyes.
What to Do: If you’re dealing with frustrating allergies, talk to your doctor about allergy medications. Then, do your best to limit your contact with possible allergens. This might mean switching your makeup brand, saying no when your friend asks you to cat-sit, or even staying inside until the pollen count lowers.
Dry Eye Syndrome and Red Eyes
Another common cause of red eyes is dry eye syndrome. If your eyes are unable to produce enough tears to remain lubricated, they can become irritated and red. Dry eye syndrome is most common among older women and smokers.
What to Do: Sometimes dry eye syndrome resolves itself, especially if it’s caused by allergies or contact overuse. Other times, the condition requires a special eyedrops prescription. If you think you’re experiencing dry eyes, talk to your eye doctor.
Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pinkeye, occurs when the eye’s conjunctiva (the clear surface over the white of the eye) becomes inflamed. Pinkeye is very common among children, and it’s very contagious. Viruses, bacteria, and even eye irritants like pool water can cause pinkeye.
What to Do: If you have pinkeye, stay home and give the eye time to heal. Viral pinkeye heals without any additional medical treatment, but bacterial pinkeye typically requires antibiotics. See your eye doctor if the condition persists after two days.
Digital Eye Strain
If your eyes are bloodshot, it could be the result of digital eye strain. In an age where people stare at screens for the majority of the day, this condition is becoming increasingly common.
What to Do: First of all, go in for an eye exam. If your prescription is out of date, it could be causing the eye strain. In addition, make sure your office’s lighting isn’t too harsh. Doing computer work in bright lighting can also cause eye strain. If the problem persists, ask your eye doctor about computer glasses.
In rare cases, a red eye can actually be a sign of a corneal ulcer, which is a localized infection of the cornea. Corneal ulcers can occur after an eye injury, and people who wear contacts have a greater risk of developing them.
What to Do: Immediately visit your eye doctor to prevent sudden vision loss. Typically treatment involves topical antibiotics.
If you have questions about the causes of red eyes, the best person to talk to is your eye doctor. Are you looking for an optometrist in southwest Missouri? Visit one of the experienced optometrists at Heffington’s. Since 1975, the Heffington family has been assisting the Springfield community with top-quality eye care and affordable eyeglasses and contacts. One of the unique features of our family-owned business is that we manufacture lenses at our own laboratory, giving us total control over the service and pricing, and we’re happy to pass our savings on to you. To learn more about our products and services, please get in touch with us online, send an e-mail to [email protected], or give us a call at 417-869-3937 (Optiland location) or 417-882-3937 (House of Vision location). We look forward to hearing from you!